by Gail Wootan, MES Assistant Director.
Did you know MES has more than $111,000 to give away to MES students for 2016-17?
And, did you know that only 13 students out of 74 Fall 2015 MES applicants applied for our highly-coveted Bilezikian fellowship last year (which, may I remind you, covers almost the entire cost of in-state tuition for two years)? That’s like turning down the amount of money Mark Zuckerberg spends on his yearly hoodie budget!
So, I thought I’d write a MESsages post to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. Here’s the thing: applying for scholarships, fellowships and grants is not anyone’s idea of a good time, especially when we live in the Cascade-peaked Pacific Northwest with its abundance of snowy hills to roll down, rivers to fish, and bike paths to ride, but I’ll tell you what’s an even worse time, and that is paying back student loans. You may have heard the news a few years ago that student loan debt exceeded credit card debt in the U.S. Well, it’s true, and it won’t be changing anytime soon. So, what are you going to do about it? Easy – you’re going to apply for MES Financial Aid by March 1!
We know that applying for financial aid is about as fun as writing a thesis, so that’s why MES made our application process as easy as possible. Here’s how:
- No need for a financial aid application for some of our awards. People who apply for Fall 16 admission by February 15 will have their admission application reviewed for two types of awards: All applicants will be considered for an academic achievement award worth a third of their tuition for two years, and nonresidents will be considered for the Evergreen Foundation Graduate Fellowship worth $4,375 for one year.
- Just fill out the FAFSA to be considered for need-based aid. New and continuing students (U.S. residents only) who make sure their FAFSA is processed by March 1 (submitted by mid-February), will automatically be considered for more than $75,000 in tuition waivers. And, to sweeten the deal for Washington residents, Evergreen will also award the Evergreen Need Grant (worth up to $2,100) to students with the highest need (basically $0 Expected Family Contribution). For about the amount of time it takes you to clean your house in avoidance of writing that paper due tomorrow, you could be telling your mom the good news that your tuition bill will be about 25% less than expected.
- Are you or were you an AmeriCorps Member? Do you know how to write your name? And click on a few buttons? Great, because we offer an automatic $500/year scholarship (up to two years) for each year of AmeriCorps service. Only catch – you need to fill out the world’s easiest financial aid application by March 1.
- Short essays. If you’re feeling a little more sassy and verbose, you can apply for a number of scholarships that require an essay. What will you get for your 100-500 words? Anywhere from $500 to $17,000. I guarantee this is a better rate per word than the Cooper Point Journal pays its best journalists.
So let’s say you somehow managed to miss our financial deadline of March 1. Not to fear, as there are a number of scholarships and fellowships to be had – you just need to do a bit more sleuthing. MES can also help you on this one:
- Subscribe to MES Weekly. We list scholarships there. Oh yeah, and jobs and internships.
- Read your email from yours truly. Seriously, one of my emails can change your life. Ask Obama about it. Or your grandma, for that matter.
- Apply for the Evergreen Sustainability Fellowship. You can get up to $4,000 for any sustainability project proposal. The application is due every February for a Spring fellowship. In fact, our application is available right now for current MES students. The $4,000 will just be plopped right into your Evergreen Financial Aid account, covering anything that Evergreen has charged you for, including those overdue library books.
- Grab yourself your laptop covered in stickers that would make Donald Trump turn a new shade of red, about 1.5 gallons of coffee, and your favorite shabby-chic chair at any Olympia coffee shop and go through this list of outside scholarships and read this webpage as thoroughly as possible. Will some of the links be broken? Absolutely. Will you find a scholarship for single-parents of color who have adopted at least three rescue horses who live in Klickitat county with an interest in rare Amazonian orchids? You bet. Is there a scholarship for you? You won’t know until you look.
Can I guarantee that you’ll completely cover all of your tuition and living costs through scholarships, fellowships, tuition waivers, and grants? Sadly, no. But I can guarantee that you definitely won’t cover ANY of your grad school costs with non-loan aid if you don’t at least try one of my suggestions.
After all, student loans are not the end of the world (climate change already has that covered), and Evergreen offers a number of paid internships and assistantships to help reduce them even further. And, don’t forget, if you work in public service for 10 years (which you all know you’re destined for, right?), you may have your loans forgiven. After all, taking out a little bit of loan money now so that you can choose the organic, gluten-free, grass-fed soba noodles from the Olympia Co-op over the Grocery Outlet expired ramen from 1987 just may be worth it for a few years.